Assam MLA bats for talks to ensure border peace

“Development at Balakhowa benefits people of both states”

GUWAHATI: West Guwahati MLA, Ramendra Narayan Kalita has appealed to both Assam and Meghalaya governments to initiate talks on all border-related issues to ensure peace in villages near the inter-state boundary.

Condemning the recent violence at Balakhowa (near Jirang-West Guwahati border), Kalita maintained that people of both the states have had a peaceful co-existence in the area for decades and that it was a shame that the recent incident was triggered by the activities of a few elements.

“Balakhowa is not a disputed area and development activities by Assam have been carried out since decades now, which benefits people of both states. Nevertheless, both the states should start talks on any border-related issue and ensure peace once and for all,” Kalita told The Shillong Times on Thursday.

The house of the secretary of Hima Nongspung, Michael Warjri, 76, was ransacked by a mob on May 7, allegedly on the pretext that Warjri had opposed a road project at Balakhowa.

Warjri, who was arrested by Assam police on May 7 and later sent to judicial custody, was released on bail secured by the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) from Guwahati central jail on Wednesday.

Assam police sources said his arrest was made on the basis of a case registered at Palasbari police station by the driver of a vehicle carrying a hydraulic tank for bridge repair in the area. Warjri had allegedly stopped and threatened the driver not to pass by that road. Police say that he had also attacked a person among the mob (which ransacked his house) with a “khukri” and threatened them with his single barrel gun.

The West Guwahati MLA, who had visited Balakhowa on May 11, however said that there was ample “proof of Warji putting out extortion letters to contactors engaged in road construction under PMGSY in the area.”

“He had even demanded Rs 8 lakh and Rs 12 lakh through such letters besides demanding tax from truck drivers and contractors. A bridge at Muduki had to be repaired to keep communication on as non-repair would affect several hundreds of residents. But Warjri had objected to such work,” Kalita said.

The MLA further said that he had even written a letter to former Meghalaya chief minister, Mukul Sangma, about three years back, for cooperation in regard to the PMGSY road construction by Assam as commuters of both the states would be benefitted.

“In fact, Mukul Sangma had admitted that there was no dispute in the area and that such development work was carried out by Assam over the years,” Kalita said.

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